Despite a sluggish start, the Ohio State women’s basketball team cruised to its fifth straight victory, beating Nebraska 95-75 at Value City Arena in Columbus on Sunday afternoon. The Buckeyes, ranked 15th in the country, now stand at 9-1 in Big Ten play, good for outright second place in the conference behind frontrunning Maryland.
Ohio State cashed in 19 Husker turnovers for 20 points, and the team’s bench outscored their opponents 40-15 in the win.
Junior Kelsey Mitchell notched another milestone, passing all-time Buckeye great Jessica Davenport for third on the program’s career scoring list. Davenport had 2,303 points in her time in Columbus, and Mitchell’s 22 points on the day now puts her at 2,309.
In addition to Mitchell, who also contributed six rebounds and seven assists, two other Buckeyes scored in double figures, as Stephanie Mavunga put up 13 and Linnae Harper added 12. Every player who saw the court for head coach Kevin McGuff scored.
Sophomore center Jessica Shepard was the story for Nebraska, putting up a double-double with 28 points and 13 rebounds, the 21st time she’s done so in her young career for the Huskers.
In what is becoming something of a trend, Ohio State started off struggling from the floor. The Buckeyes made just three of their first fourteen shots, and failed to connect on their first nine attempts from behind the three-point arc.
Nebraska wasn’t much better, turning the ball over five times and going 3-for-9 from the field. The Huskers also had trouble keeping Mavunga off the glass, yielding three offensive rebounds that the junior converted into four early points. It all added up to a 9-7 Ohio State lead at the first quarter media timeout.
Shepard proved to be a load for the Buckeyes to handle, scoring seven points and pulling down six rebounds in the frame. Mitchell, conversely, missed her first four shots, and didn’t get on the board until two free throws with 16 seconds remaining.
Ohio State led 19-10 after ten minutes thanks to a three and a half minute scoring drought and 11 total turnovers by Nebraska.
The cold shooting of the first quarter followed the Buckeyes into the second, as they started 1-for-9 from the floor. The Huskers meanwhile started 4-for-6 and quickly cut the deficit to 23-18.
The full-court press employed by Ohio State paid dividends over and over, though, as Nebraska continued to turn the ball over. With just over four minutes remaining in the half, Mitchell finally got it going. A steal and layup gave her her first field goal of the game, and she followed that up with a deep three-pointer to push the lead out to 31-20.
The Huskers once again experienced a drought from the field, going over four minutes without making a bucket. Following Mitchell’s lead, the Buckeyes took advantage, hitting six of their last nine attempts and getting to the line eight times in the period to take a 40-29 lead into halftime.
Shepard led all scorers in the half with 17 points. The sophomore also grabbed nine rebounds, well on her way to a double-double.
Mitchell scored 12 to lead Ohio State, with 10 of those coming in the second quarter. She also contributed four rebounds and four assists. Mavunga chipped in 10 points and six rebounds, with five of those boards coming on the offensive end.
Shayla Cooper, the Buckeyes’ lone senior, scored five quick points out of the chute in the third quarter, but the scarlet and gray committed three early turnovers allowing Nebraska to keep hanging around.
Mitchell went to the bench, and curiously that’s when Ohio State went on a run. Jumpers by Sierra Calhoun and Asia Doss forced a Husker timeout with the Buckeyes threatening to blow things open, up 55-39.
An and-one from Mavunga and a pair of free throws by Doss capped a 13-2 spurt for Ohio State, which took its largest lead of the game at 62-41 with just two minutes left in the period.
A corner three by Harper, who had five points in the quarter, sent the Buckeyes to the final frame with a commanding 69-46 lead after outscoring the Huskers 29-17 in the third.
Nebraska began the fourth quarter on a 12-4 run, trying to get back into the game at 73-58. But another cold spell in which they hit just one of five shots proved too much for the Huskers to overcome. Ohio State knocked down five three-pointers in the period to ice things and grab the W.
The Buckeyes will be back in action on Wednesday night at home against Penn State. The game has a 7:00 p.m. ET scheduled tip-off, and will be streaming live on BTN Plus.